'The 五鳳樓 Wǔfènglóu Five Phoenix Tower, the most beautiful building of Lijiang, its over lapping upward turned eves look like wings, carrying our souls to the spiritual heaven.' So reads a tourist brochure in Lijiang. And it is beautiful building on the outside with its graceful sweeping roof lines. |
But there is something uncomfortable, strange, unsettling about it once you enter. The main hall of this Ming Dynasty building has been turned into a memorial to the revolution and the 'turnover' of Lijiang in 1949. The walls are covered with portraits of comrades and leaders of the revolution, and others of large mass meetings where the Naxi people are being told of the benefits of Chinese style socialism. In the epicenter of the hall, on a raised platform, squats an ugly menacing machine gun. What is this all about? Why is this machine gun been placed in this graceful building?
Outside on the right side of the hall I stumbled on one lone unfinished paper horse and the framework for several others. One sees these often in Buddhist temples. They are burnt in the Shuilu ceremony for departed loved ones. What are they doing here in this setting? This is not a temple....or is it?
On the placard outside it reads that the Five Phoenix Tower was built in the Wanli reign of the Ming Dynasty. 'It used to be (sic.) named 法雲樓 Fǎyúnlóu Tower, and was once the place where the Buddhist classics of Lijiang's 福國寺 Fuguo Temple were stored.' After reading this I asked around for the location of the Fuguosi but was told that it no longer existed. (See Fuguosi under Temples category.)